Junior referee abused by senior players and fans
AN EMERGENCY meeting between Jersey FA executives and Island referees will take place this week to discuss a case of foul-mouthed abuse towards a 16-year-old referee and a match abandonment due to player behaviour.
Ten red cards – five for abusive language – were dished out by match officials over what is surely one of the worst weekends in recent history for the Jersey Football Combination, while a Championship match between Sporting Academics and St John was called off following an on-field scrap between the two sides.
On Friday night, during the women’s Zenith Cup final at Springfield, a junior referee sent a St Lawrence substitute off for abusive comments made from the bench, and was later bombarded with sarcastic comments and expletives from supporters as he left the field.
‘Something has to be done,’ said JFA chief executive Jean-Luc Desbois. ‘We have got to protect the game.
‘We are having an emergency meeting with the Jersey Football Referees’ Association this week to talk about what we do.
‘We all understand player frustration. There has always been dissent but it’s getting to the point where more referees are giving up. We had one report this weekend of a female player using obscenities towards a young referee, which just highlights the problem.
‘But this is not just a player situation. It’s the spectators and coaching staff too, and while some people might just see it as a sarcastic comment from the stands – there may not be foul language – people have to understand that somebody is on the end of it who is trying to do their best to keep a game of football going.’
An increasing handful of league matches have been forced to take place without qualified officials already this season – less than six weeks in – and Desbois is hoping that Island clubs will soon step up with reinforcements.
‘We’re now down to just 22 referees this season,’ he explained. ‘We’ve had junior and reserve games with no officials because there is just not enough.
‘A week ago I wrote to clubs asking them to nominate one person from each senior team to do a basic referees coaching course. The idea with that is we have a back-up pool of referees and then that nominated person can go out and help out at another game if their team isn’t playing.’
He added: ‘Rugby has a zero tolerance for dissent, and we’re fast-approaching [having to adopt] that situation. We have to make sure we have referees for matches because the alternative is the clubs have to referee the games themselves.
‘I’ll be clear again – it’s not just the players. Everyone has a responsibility.’